Prevalence of metabolic syndrome and its association with physical capacity, disability, and self-rated health in Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders Study participants

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015 Feb;63(2):222-32. doi: 10.1111/jgs.13205. Epub 2015 Jan 30.


Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) and its association with physical capacity, disability, and self-rated health in older adults at high risk of mobility disability, including those with and without diabetes mellitus.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis.

Setting: Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) Study.

Participants: Community-dwelling sedentary adults aged 70 to 89 at high risk of mobility disability (Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) score ≤9; mean 7.4 ± 1.6) (N = 1,535).

Measurements: Metabolic syndrome was defined according to the 2009 multiagency harmonized criteria; outcomes were physical capacity (400-m walk time, grip strength, SPPB score), disability (composite 19-item score), and self-rated health (5-point scale ranging from excellent to poor).

Results: The prevalence of MetS was 49.8% in the overall sample (83.2% of those with diabetes mellitus, 38.1% of those without). MetS was associated with stronger grip strength (mean difference (Δ) = 1.2 kg, P = .01) in the overall sample and in participants without diabetes mellitus and with poorer self-rated health (Δ = 0.1 kg, P < .001) in the overall sample only. No significant differences were found in 400-m walk time, SPPB score, or disability score between participants with and without MetS, in the overall sample or diabetes mellitus subgroups.

Conclusion: Metabolic dysfunction is highly prevalent in older adults at risk of mobility disability, yet consistent associations were not observed between MetS and walking speed, lower extremity function, or self-reported disability after adjusting for known and potential confounders. Longitudinal studies are needed to investigate whether MetS accelerates declines in functional status in high-risk older adults and to inform clinical and public health interventions aimed at preventing or delaying disability in this group.

Keywords: Short Physical Performance Battery; grip strength; metabolic syndrome; mobility disability; self-rated health.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Complications / complications
  • Diabetes Complications / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Complications / therapy
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology
  • Female
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Independent Living*
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / psychology
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Prevalence
  • Self-Assessment*